Elissa (singer)

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Elissar Zakaria Khoury (Arabic: إليسار زكريا خوري‎; born 27 October 1971[1]), commonly known as Elissa (Arabic: إليسا‎), is a Lebanese recording artist[2] who is one of Lebanon's most famous singers[3] and one of the best known artists in the Arab world.[4]

Elissa in August 2012
Elissa in August 2012
Background information
Birth nameElissar Zakaria Khoury
إليسار زكريا خوري
Born (1971-10-27) 27 October 1971 (age 49)[1]
Deir Al-Ahmar, Lebanon
GenresArabic pop, romance, world
Years active1992–present
LabelsEMI (1998–1999)
Dilara Music (2000–2003)
Rotana (2004–present)

She has been among the highest-selling female Middle Eastern artists since 2005. In 2005, she became the first Lebanese singer to receive the World Music Award for Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist, an award that she received again in 2006 and 2010.[5] She has currently sold over 30 million albums worldwide.[5][6][2] Elissa is also one of the richest celebrities in Lebanon, with a reported estimated wealth of over $40 million.[7] As of 2019, Elissa has over 50 million followers on social media.[6] In 2018, Elissa appeared as a judge on The Voice: Ahla Sawt, the Arab edition of The Voice.

Early lifeEdit

Elissa was born in Deir Al-Ahmar[8] to a Syrian mother and a Lebanese father.[9][5] She has three brothers Ghassan, Kamil and Jihad and two sisters Norma and Rita. Elissa was raised in the Beqaa Valley with her other siblings.[9]

She graduated from the Lebanese University with a degree in Political Science.[5] Although she had a degree in politics, she was additionally interested in making music.[5] Therefore, after graduating, she decided to pursue a professional career in show business and in music.[5] To successfully combine her passion of politics and theater, Elissa joined Le Théâtre de Dix-Heures, a Lebanese Theatrical Group.[5]


1992–99: Career beginnings, Studio El Fan, and debut album Baddy DoubEdit

Elissa's musical career began in 1992, when she won the silver medal in Studio El Fan, a Lebanese music competition.

Her first studio album, Baddy Doub (I Want to Melt), was released by EMI Records in 1999.[6] For the album's hit single, she included a second language by teaming up with Spanish singer, Gerard Ferrer.[6][10] In the same year, Elissa got her first big brand deal when shampoo brand Head & Shoulders took her on as the empowering and bold face of the company in the Middle East.[6]

2000–2003: W Akherta Maak and AyshalakEdit

Elissa released her second album, W Akherta Maak (To the End With You), which included the duet, "Betghib Betrouh" (You Disappear, You Go...), sung with Lebanese recording artist Ragheb Alama. She was the only Arabic artist to perform in front of former United States President Bill Clinton at the Stars Charity show in Dubai. In that year, she won the Murex d'Or award for Best Female Artist.

Her third studio album, Ayshalak (I Live For You), was released in 2002.[6] For the album's titular hit single, she filmed a music video in Paris, dressed by Christian Dior.[6][11] This was the first time Dior had worked with an Arabic artist.[6] Her clip for "Ajmal Ihssas" (Best Feeling) won an Arabic Music Award for Best Video Clip in Dubai. In 2002, Elissa inaugurated Kuwait's Virgin Megastore with Sir Richard Branson.

2003–06: Further recognition, Ahla Dounya and BastanakEdit

In 2003, Elissa signed a promotional deal with Pepsi, becoming the Middle East's brand ambassador title she held for four years.[6] Subsequently, she shot two advertisements with American pop star Christina Aguilera for Pepsi for the World Football Cup. Both advertisements were shot in Los Angeles. She collaborated with Irish singer Chris De Burgh in the duet, "Lebanese Nights."

In 2004, Elissa signed with Rotana, under which she released her fourth studio album, Ahla Dounya (The Best in the World) during that year on 4 June. The album had many singles and accompanying music videos including "Koul Youm Fi Oumri" (Every Day of My Life), "Irjaa Lilshowk" (Return to Love) and "Hobak Wajaa' (Inta Lameen)" (Your Love Hurts / Who Do You Belong To?). The single "Ahla Dounya" was released on 5 June 2005, along with the tracks "Arably" (Come Closer to Me) and "Law Nirjaa Sawa" (If We Return Again) were respectively used for the album's promotion in two Pepsi advertisements. In 2005, Elissa became the first Lebanese artist to ever receive a World Music Award for Best Selling Artist from the Middle East.[6] The ceremony took place in Hollywood's Kodak Theater. In December 2005, she received the Murex d'Or for Best Lebanese Artist and Best Video Clip for "Hobak Wajaa'". Despite the huge success, Elissa revealed in an interview in 2017, she felt that this album was a step back from "Ayshalak", although it is a fan favorite.

In February 2006, she released her fifth studio album Bastanak (Awaiting You). The album had the hit single of the same name and "Law Taarafou" (If You Knew Him), both received accompanying music videos. The as well as "Kermalak" (For You), "Taa" (Come), "Fatet Sineen" (Years Passed), and "Zanbi Ana" (My Fault). The latter was composed by Marwan Khoury. On 15 November 2006, Elissa received her second World Music Award in a row for the sales of this album.

2007–10: Ayami Beek and Tesadaa BemeenEdit

Elissa in 2009

Elissa's sixth studio album Ayami Beek (My Days With You) was released on 20 December 2007. Including one of Elissa's bigger hits "Betmoun" (I Owe You) as well as "Awakher El Shita" (The End of Winter), "Ayami Beek" and "Khod Balak Alaya" (Take Care of Me). Tesadaa Bemeen (Who Do You Believe), her seventh studio album, was released on 26 December 2009 and included one of her signature songs "Aa Bali Habibi" (Darling I Want...) and titular song "Tesadaa Bemeen". Elissa garnered her third World Music Award for Tesadaa Bemeen. In November 2010, she was awarded the prize for "Best Arab Female Artist" in the Jordan Music Awards and the Big Apple Music Award for "Best Female Artist" in the Middle East a few days later. Tesadaa Bemeen is considered to be a fan favorite due to its differing and darker themes and stronger vocal delivery throughout the album, including songs such as "Min Gheir Mounasba" (For No Reason), "Fi Shi Nkasar" (Something Broke) and "Eftakart" (I Remembered).

2012–15: Asaad Wahda, Halet Hob, and MBC The X FactorEdit

Elissa in 2012

Her eighth studio album, Asaad Wahda (The Happiest One), was released in June 2012. The album spawned music videos for the titular song and "Teebt Mennak) (Tired Of You). The latter's video was released the following year. During the summer of 2012, Elissa released the title song for the "Maa Sabk Al Esrar" series.[12] In December 2012, Elissa was chosen to be one of the judges of The X Factor Arabia; It was on the air the first four months of 2013. On 23 June 2013 Elissa received two Murex D’or awards, for the Best Lebanese Singer and Best Arabic Song "Asaad Wahda". During the summer of 2014, Elissa released a song titled "Law" (What If) written by long term collaborator Marwan Khoury.[13]

Elissa released her ninth studio album Halet Hob (A State of Love) in July 2014. The album included covers of the songs "Awel Mara" (First Time) and "Helwa Ya Baladi" (My Sweet Homeland). She released the first music video of "Hob Kol Hayati" (Love of My Life) on 12 December 2014.[14] Elissa returned as a judge on The X Factor for its second season on 14 March 2015. Elissa released her cover version of "Mawtini" on 29 April 2015, along with its music video. The second video from her ninth studio album was released on 14 May 2015, for "Ya Merayti" (My Mirror). The titular song was released as the final single in early 2016. The lyric video of "Halet Hob" has amassed more than 100 million views on YouTube.[15]

2016–17: Saharna Ya LailEdit

Elissa released her tenth studio album Saharna Ya Lail (Keep Us Up All Night) during the summer of 2016, which included singles "Saharna Ya Lail", "Maliket El Ehsas" (Queen of Emotions) and "Aaks Elli Shayfenha" (The Opposite of What You See). Despite not being released as a single, the lyric video for "Maktooba Leek" (Written for You) amassed over 120 million views (as of August 2019) on Rotana's official YouTube page, making it the most watched video on their channel.[16] The following year, Elissa released a music video for "Aaks Elli Shayfenha".[17][18] Directed by Angy Jammal,[19] the video reached 3 million views during its first week of release[20] and as of August 2019, has garnered over 60 million views on YouTube. In May 2017, Elissa announced that she is the new face of Freshlook Air Optix Colors.[6]

In August 2017, Elissa was featured on Forbes Middle East English edition's August cover[21] and gave a concert as part of Beirut Holidays Festival 2017.[22] On 14 August, Elissa released a remix for the song "Ana Majnouni" (I'm Crazy)[23] which was previously released 3 years ago.[24] "Ana Majnouni" marked the third collaboration with her brother Camil Khoury and amassed more than half a million plays during its first 2 days of release.[25] In early September, it was announced that Elissa will be one of the new The Voice season 4 coaches alongside Emirati singer Ahlam, Lebanese singer Assi El Hallani, and Egyptian singer Mohamed Hamaki.[26][27]

2018–present: Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni and Sahbit RaeyEdit

On 11 July 2018, Elissa released the first lead single titled "Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni" (To All Those Who Love Me) from her eleventh studio album of the same name.[28][29] On 16 July 2018, Elissa dropped a promotional single from the album entitled "Krahni" (Hate Me), marking the fourth collaboration with her brother Camil Khoury who handled the song's arrangement.[30][31][32] Camil additionally handled the arrangement for two more songs on the album: "Maridit Ehtimam" (Attention Seeker) and "Enta W Maii" (When You're With Me). All three songs are in the Lebanese dialect. Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni was released on 25 July 2018.[33] The album includes various dramatic, orchestral and emotional tracks,[34] such as "Al Mekhfi" (Our Secret) and "Ana Wahida" (I'm Alone).[35] Additionally featuring poppy songs such as "Men Inaya Di" (I'm Yours) and also including "Wahashtouni" (I Miss You),[36] a cover of Warda's song of the same name.

On 7 August 2018, Elissa released the music video for 'Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni'[37] where in the music video, Elissa disclosed her breast cancer diagnosis in late December 2017 along with her treatment and recovery.[38][39][3] The music video went viral and amassed more than 9 million views during its first week of release[3]

On 10 August 2018, Elissa gave a concert as part of Beirut Holidays Festival 2018; among the attendees was Armenian entertainer Lubluba.[40] She also gave a concert in Tunisia.[41] In September 2018, the Lebanese Information Minister honored Elissa for her career.[8] In October 2018, Elissa hinted at possible problems with label Rotana due to their exclusive deal with the Paris-based music streaming service Deezer, prompting the immediate removal of her entire discography from online digital services such as Anghami, Spotify and iTunes along with various Rotana-signed artists.[42][43] On 22 April 2019 she released the music video for her song "Krahni".[44]

In November 2018, Elissa announced on Twitter that she had begun work on her upcoming twelfth studio album.[45] On 18 January 2019, Elissa performed a benefit concert in Egypt.[46][47] In July, she announced a partnership with makeup artist Bassam Fattouh, releasing an eyeshadow palette titled 'The Star'.[48] On 22 July, a promotional song for Telecom Egypt's 'WE' mobile service titled "Ably Aya Hadi" (Without A Limit) was released and as of August 2019, gained over 15 million views on YouTube.[49]

Elissa Twitter

I am preparing this new album with a lot of love and passion. The reason is that it will be the last one in my career. I am announcing this with a heavy heart but with a lot of conviction because I can't work in a field that is similar to mafias. I can't be productive anymore

Aug 19, 2019[50]

On 18 August 2019, she announced her retirement from the music industry via Twitter, stating her then-upcoming twelfth studio album would be her last and describing the music industry field as "similar to the mafias."[51] The news of her retirement shocked fans and fellow artists as #كلنااليسا (#WeAreAllElissa) began to trend on Twitter, being offered support for the singer by fans and artists alike.[52] On 18 July 2020, she also announced her twelfth album Sahbit Raey (My Own Opinions) and released the lead single of the same name on 23 July. The album was followed by two singles titled "Hanghani Kaman Wi Kaman" and "Ahwet El Madi", which were released on 11 April and 25 May respectively and were later included in the track listing. An initial cover for the album/single with suggestive themes had caused controversy among audiences and had prompted Elissa's management to have it replaced with a different cover.[53] The album was released exclusively on Deezer and Rotana's official YouTube channel during the Eid al-Adha season on 1 August.[54] The album's final song features a French-language cover of Mourir sur scène by Egypt-born French artist Dalida.[55]

Personal life and political viewsEdit

In 2014, Elissa took to social media to condemn the atrocities committed by ISIS against minorities, stating "I'm Lebanese and I'm proudly Christian, shame on such people."[56] Elissa is an outspoken advocate of women's rights in the Middle East.[6]

An advocate for Breast cancer awareness,[57][58][39] Elissa revealed her previously private diagnosis and defeat of an early stage of the disease with the release of her music video for "Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni"; previously keeping it a secret from both the press and general public from her diagnosis in late-2017.[37][38][39][59] The video ends with the following message: "I've recovered, I've beaten the illness and I won... Early detection of breast cancer can save your life... Don't ignore it, face it... Do it not only for yourself, but for your loved ones." Many applauded her for "breaking the taboo" of breast cancer awareness in the Middle East and therefore influenced and encouraged women to be checked for the disease.[3] The hashtags #Elissa (اليسا#) and #To_All_Who_Love_Me (الى_كل_اللي_بيحبوني#) began to trend in Lebanon and surrounding countries in the Middle East.[3][60][61][62] In October 2018, Elissa was chosen as an ambassador for a breast cancer awareness campaign in Beirut.[63]

Elissa admitted in May Chidiac Foundation conference that she was subject of bullying for her mouth on social media, but she said, "When you achieve what I achieved in life, you can come and say whatever you want."[64]

She is a supporter of Lebanese Forces party and its leader Samir Geagea as she backed him for presidency before the election of Michel Aoun.[65]


Studio albumsEdit

  • Baddy Doub (1999)
  • W Akherta Maak (2000)
  • Ayshalak (2002)
  • Ahla Dounya (2004)
  • Bastanak (2006)
  • Ayami Beek (2008)
  • Tesadaa Bemeen (2010)
  • Asaad Wahda (2012)
  • Halet Hob (2014)
  • Saharna Ya Lail (2016)
  • Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni (2018)
  • Sahbit Raey (2020)

Non-album singlesEdit

  • Maa Sabk Al Esrar (2012)
  • Law (2014)
  • Mawtini (2015)
  • Anti L Tohro Ya Mariam (2017)
  • Zakaria (2017)
  • Eisht W Shift (2018)
  • Bokra Btechroq Shams El Aied (2018)
  • Abl Ay Had (2019)
  • Aam Thour (2019)




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  2. ^ a b nadiadhahir (22 August 2017). "إليسا.. السر وراء لقب "ملكة الإحساس" - Forbes Middle East".
  3. ^ a b c d e "Women Are Saying They're Getting Checked After A Famous Lebanese Singer Said She'd Had Breast Cancer".
  4. ^ Press, ZEINA KARAM Associated. "Lebanese diva breaks taboo with clip announcing cancer fight".
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  17. ^ "Account Suspended". www.standardrepublic.com.
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  19. ^ ""عكس اللي شايفينها" لـ إليسا إختيار موفّق أنجي جمّال".
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  26. ^ "MBC announces newest 'The Voice' coaches - Egypt Independent". 7 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Elissa and Essi: Here are the New Judges on The Voice!". 6 September 2017.
  28. ^ "Elissa - Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni - Play for free on Anghami". 11 July 2018.
  29. ^ "Review: 'Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni', Elissa Drops First Song From New Album And It Is Growing on Us". 12 July 2018.
  30. ^ "Elissa 2018 - Play for free on Anghami". Anghami.
  31. ^ "Text Your Ex This Song! Elissa Just Dropped Second Track From Upcoming Album, Entitled 'Krahni'". 18 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Elissa ... Krahni - 2018 | إليسا ... كرهني - بالكلمات". YouTube. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
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  34. ^ "Elissa's new album shows the cracks behind the image".
  35. ^ "16 أغنية جديدة في ألبوم إليسا 'إلى كل اللي بيحبوني'". البوابة نيوز.
  36. ^ Rotana (24 July 2018). "Elissa ... Wahashtouni - 2018 - إليسا ... وحشتوني - بالكلمات" – via YouTube.
  37. ^ a b Rotana (7 August 2018). "Elissa ... Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni - Video Clip 2018 - إليسا ... إلى كل اللي بيحبوني - فيديو كليب" – via YouTube.
  38. ^ a b "Lebanese pop sensation Elissa reveals breast cancer battle in music video". 13 August 2018.
  39. ^ a b c "How Lebanese sensation Elissa defeated cancer - Annahar Staff". 8 August 2018.
  40. ^ لوك لوك (10 August 2018). "اليسا تعلق على مرضها بالسرطان فى اول ظهور لها بعد مرض السرطان فى حفلة اليسا اعياد بيروت 2018" – via YouTube.
  41. ^ "إليسا: سعيدة بزيارة تونس يوم إعلان المساواة بين الرجل والمرأة في الميراث — النهار أونلاين". 14 August 2018.
  42. ^ "عاجل - اليسا على وشك الانفصال عن"روتانا" بسبب ضياع ارشيفها: "انا مدمرة"". Laha Magazine. 11 October 2018.
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  44. ^ "Elissa - Krahni [Official Music Video] (2019) / اليسا - كرهني" – via www.youtube.com.
  45. ^ Elissa [@elissakh] (10 November 2018). "My very first song of the new album is officially chosen. I can't stop listening to it and I can't thank @AmirTeima and @ziadbourjiii enough for it! I declare the launch of #ElissaAlbum12 journey!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  46. ^ "Elissa to perform in Egypt on Jan.18". EgyptToday.
  47. ^ "Elissa to perform cancer-benefit concert in Egypt on January 18". Sada El Balad.
  48. ^ "Bassam Fattouh and Elissa Collaborate On a New Eyeshadow Palette". Vogue Arabia. 4 July 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  49. ^ Telecom Egypt (22 July 2019). "أغنية وي .. قبل أى حد - غناء اليسا" – via YouTube.
  50. ^ Elissa [@elissakh] (19 August 2019). "I am preparing this new album with a lot of love and passion. The reason is that it will be the last one in my career. I am announcing this with a heavy heart but with a lot of conviction because I can't work in a field that is similar to mafias. I can't be productive anymore" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  51. ^ "Pop star quits 'mafia-like' music industry". 19 August 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  52. ^ "رواد "تويتر" يطلقون "كلنا إليسا".. وأحدهم يدعو جمهورها للتظاهر أمام بيتها - مصراوي". Masrawy. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
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  54. ^ "Sahbit Raey - Elissa". Deezer. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
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  56. ^ "Elissa on Twitter".
  57. ^ "Elissa continues to combat breast cancer". EgyptToday.
  58. ^ "Cancer survivor Elissa tweets in support of Lebanese beauty runner-up". english.alarabiya.net.
  59. ^ Editor, Sara Al Shurafa, Web News (7 August 2018). "Lebanese singer Elissa announces she has fought breast cancer through new video".CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  60. ^ "After Elissa, fans of Myriam Fares shocked at 'cancer' rumors". english.alarabiya.net.
  61. ^ "Lebanese Diva Breaks Taboo With Clip Announcing Cancer Fight".
  62. ^ "Gaby -SAVER on Twitter".
  63. ^ "Elissa chosen as ambassador for breast cancer awareness campaign". EgyptToday.
  64. ^ "فيديو: إليسا تتحدث للمرة الأولى عن تعرضها للتنمر بسبب "فمها" وترد بقوة". hiamag.com (in Arabic). 16 December 2018.
  65. ^ "Elissa visits Maarab in show of support for Geagea - News, Lebanon News - THE DAILY STAR". www.dailystar.com.lb.

External linksEdit